Tag Archives: religion


I’m writing this for several reasons. For one, I know that a few of you have been along for the ride but don’t actually know me. You’ve prayed for me and supported us through this so you definitely deserve an update! But I’m doing this for me as well. Although I don’t go back and read my old blogs, if I ever decided to I would for sure want this chronicled.

Yesterday, I got my port out.

Yes, it’s an awkward pic but I don’t care! Because I’m excited and I’m happy! Let me tell ya, the procedure is done in a very professional way in the OR and all that, but I was also fully awake for it. So all of the tugging and pulling against my scar tissue while I was still awake and aware was gag-worthy. For real. But…good has come from it.

For a while this port was like a security blanket for me. It felt like relief and it felt like comfort. I didn’t want it at first but once I had it, I truly came to rely on it as a source of calming, as weird as that may sound.

But over the years, I’ve needed it less and less. Treatments were stopped over 2 years ago and it became a hassle. Something that was uncomfortable and that needed attending to (in the form of getting flushed) even though it was inconvenient. As my days were spent more at home than at Penn, these visits to have my port flushed felt increasingly intrusive. And so we decided to get it out.

I need to include something here for my own records because I felt that I never had closure on this cancer stuff. As much as I could physically feel healthy and mentally detach from the trauma, there was always the reminder in the form of that uncomfortable port in my chest. Treatments didn’t stop with some triumphant “last chemo” where I ring a bell and get applause. No, I simply didn’t want to do them anymore and my oncologist understood and supported that decision.

Appointments and specialists and scans sort of petered out. There wasn’t an end. But this? This felt like an end to the chapter. This felt like the turning of a page. This port that had ingested so much chemo and has seen me through some of the hardest times of my life was about to go. And symbolically, it was impossible to ignore.

You see, God has been opening my eyes to so much recently.

I wanted to go by myself to Philly to get my port out and as I drove home, I thought I’d listen to my chemo playlist on my phone. This was literally the playlist I would listen to during infusions. I haven’t been able to bring myself to listen to it for over 2 years, but I also haven’t been able to bring myself to delete it. It’s special.

So as the songs played, I felt myself get real honest with God. You see, over the last year and a half, we have been a part of starting a church. This is good! But on the same coin, it’s been the hardest time of my life. I’ll explain.

When God called us to this church plant, it ripped me from the only church home I’ve ever known. It tore me from the comfort of the church family that was truly my family, the people who had loved and supported us through my cancer and the people that I wanted to love and support. It took us away from the teens who loved and trusted us and who we loved so very much. Being a part of this church plant meant willingly giving up a huge piece of my heart. And unbeknownst to us at the time, it meant enduring some cruel and unjust criticisms as well. And I was just not ready for that.

On the drive home from having my port removed and thinking through all of the happenings of the last few years that I had shut off from myself, I came to see a few things.

For one: difficult emotions can coexist. I’ll say it again, difficult emotions can coexist! My grief over the loss of my church family in New Holland did not mean I love my new church any less! I’ve tried to hide my grief because I felt like if I looked sad to leave my other church that it would look like I wasn’t ready or excited to tackle what God had in store for us at the new church. And that’s just not true! I spent almost a year in a deep depression over losing our old church, especially the youth. So much so God had to hit me over the head with the new opportunities we had to spread the gospel this past week as 20 teens came to our house for youth group. Praise God for His goodness!! I will always miss our old church. Always. Especially the teens. But I feel more free to experience that grief alongside the excitement and joy of creating new relationships.

And two: God showed me that I have closed myself off from Him. Ok, actually I already knew this, but I guess He showed me why.

Over the last few years, God has called me to some things that were hard. Things I didn’t want or ask for. Things I didn’t want to do and things I didn’t want to face. I’ve meditated on the verse that says, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” a LOT over the last few weeks, and there was just a hesitation on my part to draw near to Him but I couldn’t figure out why. I love Him and I want to serve Him only, so why couldn’t I connect?

Then, in the drive home from having my port removed while I was listening to the worship music on my chemo playlist it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m terrified of what He’ll ask of me next.

The last few years have been so hard, such a struggle, with so little clarity that I was scared that what He’d ask next would be even more so difficult. I’m a little ashamed to even admit this, but I know I need to as some of you look at me as a Christian who just has it all together and has it all figured out. That’s just not the case.

So why even write this? For one, an update to you amazing folks who have followed this journey with me. And for two, so I can look back someday and see what God was up to in this season. I feel closure on the part of my life that was ruled by cancer and that feels so good! And while I still grieve the loss of the most amazing church family anyone could ask for, I’m thanking God for putting us where He has put us.

If you read this to the end, I’m so sorry for making you endure all that and may God bless you for it!! There’s no way I can thank you guys enough for your love, encouragement, and prayers over the years. It’s really mind-boggling to think of all of the support we’ve received and we are beyond thankful! So, thank you!!

And in case you want to know, Eric and the kids are doing great and I found a hobby and passion in cookies!

Love to all of you!! 💕

Cancer, a Birthday, and a Secret Prayer

I was dying.  And I knew it.  I was under no delusions that healing was on the table for me and I had accepted my lot in life.  Or death, I suppose, as it were.  Cancer was “exploding” all over my body, in the words of my oncologist, and I had a few good months left – at best.  My brain tumor was wreaking havoc in the way of grand mal seizures that left me for minutes on end without oxygen, leaving me to try to regain my body functions and memory after each one.  And after each one it got increasingly harder and had more long term effects that didn’t dissipate.  I had tumors in my lungs that were so inflamed that any exertion left me in a coughing fit and I found myself night after night sleeping upright on the couch because laying down in bed next to my husband, where I longed to be, would result in painful coughing fits.  My hip and back ached constantly, crying out in pain, and reminding me that the cancer was eating my bones.  Little by little.

Each day I had to relinquish more and more control of my life and the life of my family over to family and friends.  I thank God endlessly for the selfless love we received, but there is no 30 year old mother on earth who wants this for her family.  And so I struggled mentally with my lack of involvement with my kids at the level I had wanted for myself.

My body and my mind were both betraying me more and more each day.  And there was no hope in healing.  And so we faced each day as we had to.

I watched my kids, then 2 and 4, living a seemingly normal life.  At least, as normal as we could provide in the midst of all my treatments, scans, and appointments.  We tried to build a sense of normalcy around the fact that Mommy was dying and we treated it as a fact of life rather than a scary and sad event.  I bought them a book called “A Kid’s Travel Guide to Heaven” and we read it every day.  And while it’s certainly not scripture based, it did help open the discussion and help the kids to see that that was where Mommy would be.  Waiting for them to come.

I needed them to know that if they understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and that if they accepted the gift of salvation that we would be together again.  And I needed them to know that although Mommy was happy to go to heaven, that it would never be my choice to leave them.  Never.  I was desperate for them to understand this.  And the tears would fall.  Rolling down my cheeks in silent protest.  Just as they are right now as I write this.

A sibling squabble was a reminder that I wouldn’t be there to help them bond as they grew up.   Setting the kids in front of a Veggietales so I could get a break because I was in too much pain was a reminder that I wouldn’t be a spiritual influence for them for very much longer.  A sweet hug goodnight and even the frustration of trying to put young kids to bed were all too painful reminders of all I would be missing out on.  And selfishly, this tore me up inside.  Everything in me longed to be there for them as they grew up, and so the tears fell.

People often ask me how I did it.  How could I face this?  How could I cope?  There is truly no good answer to that.  I know we did what we had to do but looking back it seems so impossible.  It really was too much.  How did we do it?

There was a profound acceptance on my part that this was the end.  Mind you, acceptance certainly did not mean gladness.  I was tired and I was sad.  But I was ready.

I remember one sleepless night very clearly.  I had propped myself up on lots of pillows so that I could stay in bed with Eric, and as was so often the case when I could manage to stay in bed, I would listen to him rhythmically breathing as he slept and I would be soothed by the fact that he, at least for a few hours each day, had calmness and rest.  On this particular night, just like I had on so many others, I would pray.

But tonight would be a little bit different.

I lay there with my eyes closed tight, silent tears falling faster each second, cascading down my cheeks only to puddle up onto the sheets.  And in my desperation I reached my hand up to heaven.  And I begged God with all I had in me, to give me until I was 34.

34 years old.

Please God!  It would be about 3.5 years at that point and I felt like I was asking for the moon.  I felt like I was asking God to turn me into a unicorn or something equally as impossible.  I felt like I knew I was asking for too much, that it wasn’t possible, that it was absolutely ridiculous.  But that for some reason in my head that was the perfect amount of time.  That if He just allowed me that window of time that the kids would be old enough to have some good, solid memories of me.  At that time, this was the number one tug on my heart.  Selfishly, I wanted nothing more than for the kids to remember me.  That’s just the way it was.  Eric and I would have been married 10 years when I was 34, and that was just an astonishing feat to me.  It sounded so glorious.  Perfect.  The perfect amount of time!  I kept apologizing to God because I knew my request was so silly and so selfish.  But as I continued to pray, my desperation simply grew as I begged and begged God to please just give me until I was 34!

I write this today.  On my 34th birthday.  I can honestly say I never thought this day would come.  I know God isn’t a genie up in heaven granting wishes, but I believe He heard my heart on that night.  I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure how all of this has worked or why it has worked out this way, surviving this long isn’t something I believe I deserve or have earned.  It just simply is.  And as I sit here now with clean scans as of last week, I’ll accept it as the beautiful gift it is.

I didn’t want to tell this story.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of people I ever told this prayer to.  Why?  Because it felt like a childish prayer.  Like a lack of faith on my part, and maybe it was.

But I wanted to tell it now because God is good and deserves all praise.  Always.  He has given me more than I could ever ask or imagine.  Think about those words, more than I could ask or imagine.  All glory to God!  And I give Him glory for this urgency He has placed in my heart for spreading the gospel.  It can feel like a burden sometimes because it was so much easier to live a lukewarm life, but I pray He never lets this passion for praising Him and spreading the Good News fade.  Christ has reconciled this sinner with a Holy God through His righteousness alone.  I’ll always be grateful and I want to only praise him forever.  Thank you, Jesus!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”  ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Gun Violence and The Church


Of course when I hear of a tragedy like the one that happened yesterday, my heart breaks for the victims’ families and friends and for the ones who witnessed it and must deal with the emotional scars from this forever.  I’m unable to comprehend in any form the grief and weight that they will carry now forever.  These tragedies instill in us fear and distrust and it’s easy to jump to our go-to talking points on these incidents.  But that doesn’t seem to be helping, does it?  Maybe we need to take a step back, look at the whole picture, and see if there isn’t another possible approach.

To be perfectly clear:  I am not anti-gun nor am I a pacifist.  I have tried to look at this issue from all sides and I feel like there is an element from a Christian perspective that maybe we are missing.  Is an ultimate solution to add money into the budget for armed personnel at every school?  Maybe.  Is it a solution to restrict access?  I don’t know.  I just know that it’s time we all start listening to each other instead of fighting.  Church, please hear me out.

I’m no expert by any stretch on, well, anything, but I’ve learned a few things in my 11 years of faith and 10 years of youth ministry.  By and large, the kids who act out the most or go on to hurt themselves or others are kids who don’t feel noticed, accepted, loved, or worthy.  They don’t see why they are here and can’t fathom having a purpose.  When your life centers around you and there is seemingly no value to it, it makes some sense why these things can occur.  These kids feel wronged and since life has no meaning apart from themselves, they feel hopeless and trapped because they truly do not believe that things can get better.

As a Christian, I know that every person on this planet is loved, worthy, and has a purpose.  And that there is always hope.  But there are so many people that can look into the mirror and see no hope, no purpose, and can’t imagine ever being loved.  I’ve worked with many troubled teens and can attest that they truly feel this way and the depths of this hopelessness is soul crushing.  So what can we do?  How are we, as individuals, supposed to help any of this?

There’s no way I could fully explain the intricacies and nuance of a life following Christ, at least not in one blog post certainly, but I can fully attest to the fact that it is better.  Even if our circumstances don’t change at all, Christ changes us and refines us and that’s what we need.

Church, imagine the burden of thinking that in your life, all that matters is what you make of yourself through your own effort and achievements.  We are often so far removed from our pre-Christ selves that we don’t see that that is an enormous burden and one that our neighbors are shouldering.  And that that “truth” as they see it does not reconcile well with a sin-sick world that glorifies violent and dangerous behavior.  Add to that the burden teens feel due to social media.  Don’t blow it off just because we don’t understand it as an older generation, it creates pressures that we just cannot fathom.  And if you are growing up outside of the church, you likely don’t have that support system or that place to go to feel loved and cared about.  These kids are hurting so deeply and it tears me up inside.

If we are looking for a cure for this violence, I believe it must go deeper than guns and deeper than saying “they need Jesus” although, of course, I believe that’s true.  I’m not anti-gun by any means but I’m also not crazy enough to believe that a secular society, such as ours, that is taught from day one to look out for #1 and that there is no inherent value in life because there is no God and we are all here by complete random chance, is capable of raising children and teens that have a solid foundation and can be kept from actions like these.  So perhaps reformed gun laws are in order so that we can protect this next group of kids because, truthfully, Church, we aren’t doing enough.  Saying “It’s a heart problem not a gun problem” isn’t good enough.  Is it true?  I believe so, yes.  But we must as a whole take a long and difficult look in the mirror and realize that our faith without actions is dead.  Useless.  Pointless.  Christians do a whole lot more talking than acting these days and there is just no fruit from that.  And Jesus tells us we will be known by our fruit.  No wonder the world takes one look at us and decides it doesn’t want to a part of our stale and complacent faith.

Do I believe law-abiding citizens should have to give up their guns?  No.  But I do believe if every law-abiding, self-proclaimed Christian would step up and get involved in the lives of young people through mentoring or something along those lines, these tragedies would decrease greatly, maybe even disappear.

It’s no secret that America is becoming more and more secular every year as people leave their faith in droves, some stats for a place to start.  These stats should spur us on to do better!  Perhaps it’s time to take our walls down, listen to the other side, and see if there isn’t middle ground somewhere without compromising our faith.   I believe there are issues like abortion that from a faith-based perspective are black and white and there is no middle ground.  That the right to life should always be pursued and protected.  I think it’s important to take a solid and loving stand on these issues.  But is gun control really one of them?  I’m open to hearing other sides and very much invite civil conversation, so let me know if you disagree.  And please know I’m well versed in both sides of the argument and can fully understand both sides.

We know there is a cure for hopelessness, a cure for soul-crushing self hatred, a cure for life without purpose and Jesus really is the cure for this.  We know this, Church!  And God has chosen us as the means to deliver this message!  I believe our idols of safety and comfort have kept quiet and made us complacent.  There are a whole lot of hurting people out there and we aren’t powerless to sit back and do nothing.  For we know the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ because we have been made new because of it!  The first steps toward personal change and progress are always hard and scary and make us vulnerable and we just don’t like that.  But we have so much work to do and with God’s help, it is not impossible.

Prayer for Believers

May Your holy fire burn within us again;

And may Your love boil over in result, forcing us to action in Your name.

May we cast off the rotting corpses of shame, guilt, and regret,

And may we fully come to know that Your blood has washed us clean.

May we be ceaselessly burdened for those who don’t know You,

And may we make discipleship our priority.

May we take the Good News so far that our feet become sore and weary,

And may our arms ache and cry out as we reach farther and farther towards the lost.

May we keep our eyes fixed only on Him, our feet straight in His path,

And our lives set in His will.

May we see suffering and long to ease it,

And may we endure suffering in Your strength only.

May we experience unity as believers,

Recognizing that we all share the same goal.

May our lips speak to praise You,

And our words bring You glory.

May we meet contempt with love.

May our words build each other up in constant encouragement.

May we no longer pursue a world that is ripe with decay,

But let us seek revival in Your word.

May we experience hunger so that others may be fed.

May we serve with intent and selflessness,

Forsaking accolades and meaningless praise.

May our egos dry to dust and float away in the wind of God’s goodness.

And may our icy apathy and cold-hearted complacency towards Christ’s final directive begin to melt,

That we may thirst for the living water above all else to fill us.

Why I’m Not Religious

I will put this as simply as I can: I am not religious. In fact, when I’m called “religious”, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me, I stop immediately in my tracks as if I’ve just received the worst insult in the world, and I think “Is that really what you think of me??” Yes, I go to church. Yes, I’m active in ministry. Yes, I read my Bible. Yes, I pray. Yes, I’ve accepted salvation through Jesus Christ. Yes, I have stage 4 cancer and The Lord has helped us navigate this uncertain time.

But I am not religious.

Maybe not every Christian feels this way, but to me, the word “religion” has such a connotation of indoctrination, brainwashing, power hungry people, people who wish to control others, financial greed, legalism, dogma, human judgement and condemnation – so, uh, basically things that Jesus came to set us free from.

Being a follower of Christ is freedom!

Jesus came and set us free from these things. Paul explains all of this better than I ever could in Romans (specifically Romans 7). Romans 7:6 says, “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”

In the Spirit! Yes, you go, Paul!! Jesus came for the Jew and the gentile (read: everyone), so it was no longer about ethnicity and who you descended from, it was about your heart and your willingness to lay your burdens down at the cross and become a Child of God. Man, God is good!


I’m sure I’m not saying all of this the way I’d prefer it come out, so here’s a video that so accurately describes why I don’t like to be called “religious”. Our pastor showed this at our church the other week (cuz we’re cool like that) and I had to resist the urge to jump up and down clapping and cheering when it was over; it was that good. Although at this point I’m sure my church family wouldn’t be surprised if I did, they’re cool like that.

This guy is a poet (spoken word artist? rapper without music?) Ok, not sure what to call him, but his message is great. Please, please, please check it out.
Jesus > Religion

My favorite part? “Church is not a museum of good people, but a hospital for the broken.” Of course, I believe it’s important to be connected to church, to be connected to believers, to constantly be doing the “work” so that we can be effective disciples. This man is not saying that church is necessarily bad, but that we need to make sure that we realize that it’s not going to church that makes us good, it’s not doing the “good” thing, it’s us realizing what Christ really did for us and that we are all on equal footing before the cross and then recognizing that church is a place to be spiritually fed and bandaged before going back out into the world.

And, if you happen to be into rap, may I suggest this gem from Lecrae – I’m Free. Seriously, if you click it, at least listen all the way through, if you didn’t think you could worship to rap music, you are wrong! (Highly recommend the whole “Rebel” album, actually.)